Statement regarding new research into wound infection | Action Medical Research

Statement regarding new research into wound infection

14 September 2001
embargoed to 0001hrs Friday September 14, 2001 ***Action Research funds promising project being published in The Lancet*** Patients who are ‘warmed up’ prior to surgery could reduce the risk of developing post-operative wound infection by more than 60 per cent according to promising new research. The study has been funded by leading medical research charity Action Research, and is published in this week’s edition of The Lancet (vol 358 number 9285). The charity says the results could offer a realistic alternative to current prevention methods. John Grounds, director of campaigns and communications says: ‘ Wound infection is a common complication of surgery and the cost to both health providers and the patient’s quality of life is substantial. This new study could help reduce the financial burden currently placed on the NHS.’ Researchers at the University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton-on-Tees carried out a clinical trial on more than 400 patients undergoing breast, varicose vein, or hernia surgery. They were randomly assigned to three different groups. One third of patients were placed under an inflatable blanket filled with warm air for at least half an hour before their operations. A further third had a heated dressing placed over their potential incision site. The final third were operated on without having undergone either warming procedure. The researchers identified wound infections in 14% of non-warmed patients, compared with five per cent who received warming. The non-warmed patients were also prescribed substantially more postoperative antibiotics. Clinical research nurse Andrew Melling says: ‘The surgical episode and the first few hours afterwards have been widely accepted as the key period when a wound infection is likely to become established. Our study suggests that the hour before surgery may be just as important. ‘The simple addition of two different types of warming, applied for at least 30 minutes before surgery, have both clearly reduced infection rates and therefore the need for additional treatment, including postoperative antibiotics which have associated risks of allergy and resistance.’ Leading the study Professor David Leaper says the results were better than expected, and adds: ‘Without the support of Action Research this study would not have been possible and we are now in a position to continue this promising research.’ For further media information and interviews, please contact Nicole Duckworth in the Action Research press office on 01403 327403 Fax: 01403 210541, or email nduckworth@action.org.uk ISDN facilities are available.
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